CAR Drives Commercial Interest

May 12, 2003
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GRAND RAPIDS — Here is a CAR that has gotten great mileage in a short amount of time and has been able to sell itself in a less than stellar economy.

The Commercial Alliance of Realtors, or CAR, is fast approaching 400 members since it officially started on Jan. 1.

But getting to that starting line hasn't been a quick trip: The idea for a new CAR, one that would cater to the needs of commercial real estate brokers in West Michigan, was first brought up about a dozen years ago.

Stan Wisinski, president and owner of S.J. Wisinski & Co., is one of a core of Realtors that has been driving CAR from the start. Today, he serves as the initial CAR president.

"We tried to get some different benefits at the Grand Rapids Real Estate Board when there wasn't a distinction between the residential and the commercial. It was just one real estate board," recalled Wisinski.

"We started then to start working on it and formed a different division. We worked on it for a number of years and were able to form a commercial division of the real estate board," he said.

It took a vote of the entire real estate board, including those in the residential end of the business, to create the commercial division, which operated under the local board's banner for about a half-dozen years.

Still, commercial brokers wanted an organization of their own.

"We really wanted to have more focus, so we formed CAR," said Wisinski.

CAR is an unincorporated division of the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors; it runs under the GRAR umbrella, but does so independently.

"They don't dictate to us and we don't dictate to them. We're under their umbrella because there are some benefits to be under the umbrella. At any time, we could break off if we wanted to, but that's not our intention," said Wisinski.

"We have close to 400 members now, if I'm not mistaken."

Wisinski told the Business Journal that CAR is keeping its focus on the West Michigan commercial market for now.

He added, however, that the group's primary objective is to grow. And even though its members are licensed throughout the state, Wisinski thought that CAR should move slowly before becoming a statewide organization.

"We want to grow, but we want to take one step at a time. We don't want to take on the whole state because when you grow too fast, it doesn't work," he said. "So we're basically concentrating on the West Michigan market."

The Detroit Area Commercial Board of Realtors, or daCBOR, has members throughout the state, including West Michigan.

Ray Kisor, a principal with Commerce Reality, serves as treasurer, while Grubb & Ellis Paramount Properties CEO Bill Bowling and Commercial Magazine President Joseph Anthony are on the daCBOR board.

The organization can date its roots back to 1993 when it was the South Oakland County Board of Realtors, and the organization is in the process of changing its name to better reflect its statewide reach. DaCBOR is based in Farmington Hills.

CAR is not affiliated or tied to daCBOR today. But a link could be created some day.

"The reason that we formed our organization and did not join theirs is because the philosophies in the Detroit area are different from those in the western part of the state.

"We have a strong multiple listing service here, a strong board and strong members, so we don't want to take a step backwards," said Wisinski.

"Our thought was to form our own, which we have, and eventually — we're talking with them now — eventually we might join forces," he added.

"That's a long-term goal. But right now, because of the differences in philosophies, that's not going to work out. But we're still working with them."

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